This is a short presentation on the basic components of a modern beehive. It doesn't go into managing bees in any detail, it's mainly meant to give a novice beekeeper an idea of what she should buy to prepare for their first colony.
The winehouse beehive is not commonly used in this area but is perhaps the best known contemporary beehive
This is another famouse beehive, the Whitehouse beehive. We&#x2019;ll come back to this one when we&#x2019;re done looking at the parts.
This diagram shows a more typical modern hive. We&#x2019;ll be looking at each of these parts in the rest of the presentation.
The base and the bottom board form the foundation of the hive. This base has a landing board that makes it easier for the bees to get back into the hive. This is a pretty fancy base and not really required. As you saw with the Whitehouse hive bases come in all shapes and sizes. Cinder blocks are a favorite choice for many of us.
The bottom board shown here is a screened bottom board. next
Screened bottom boards are not required but highly recommended at least by me.
These are the boxes that form the body of the hive. These are catalog pictures of unpainted equipment. Yours will be painted. These come in 3 depths. Typically or traditionally beekeepers used two deep hives as the brood chamber and put as many supers on top as the bees would fill with honey. Because the deep hive bodies did not typically have to be moved much they could be heavier and fewer boxes & frames means less work & less expense building them. A lot of beekeepers also standardize on medium boxes and use them for the whole hive.
There are a lot of options in selection of frames and foundation. Building wooden frames, wiring them and installing foundation is the most time consuming and expensive parts of starting a new colony. Most commercial or large scale beekeepers use either completely plastic frames as pictured above or use plastic foundation in a wooden frame. I&#x2019;ve had luck with all 3 approaches. This is something you should talk to other beekeepers about and probably experiment with.
There are any number of variations on these basic themes.
Entrance reducers are used when the colony is young and in the winter.
We&#x2019;re going to Forest Hill because it&#x2019;s close and good quality. All of these others are good suppliers. Brushy Mountain has been very good at supporting the efforts of local bee organizations. The big problem with all of them is shipping. You can expect to pay $35 - 40 for shipping on a complete hive, which drives the price up significantly.
Typical Bee Hive Configuration
Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild
A good base
A base sits on the ground. You
don’t need anything this fancy.
You can use cinder blocks or
whatever you have. The point is
to keep the bottom board oﬀ the
The bottom board is what it says.
The rest of the hive stacks on top
of it and it has one open side that
lets the bees go in and out of the
A screened bottom board has
a hardware cloth screen
instead of solid wood. This is
essential for controlling
mites. Mites are parasites
that can kill your colony.
With a screened bottom
board they fall through the
screen and can’t get back on
your bees. This can reduce
mite population by 30%
A matter of depth
Deep or Hive Medium or
Body Illinois Super
5 11/16 deep
9 1/8 deep 6 5/8 deep
~25 lb when
~60+ lb when ~35 lb when
ﬁlled with ﬁlled with
Frames and Foundations
The frame is where the action is. The
bees build their comb in the frames
using the foundation as a template.
LOTS of options here.
Wax foundation with embedded plastic foundation
Several kinds of plastic foundation
Small Cell, Drone, etc.
Top Bar - wedge or grooved
wire is used with wax foundation if
the frame will go in an extractor
Sides - match the depth
of the box
Bottom Bar - divided or grooved
Wax Foundation (wedge top bar, divided bottom bar)
Wax is usually reinforced with wire or pins
Plastic Foundation (grooved top & bottom bar)
Plastic Frames - one piece frame and foundation
Wooden Frames with no foundation
Topping it off
Inner cover sits directly on top
of the hive. It controls access
and provides a minimal area for
the bees to propolize.
Outer cover or telescoping
cover has a lip that comes
down over the sides. It
provides protection and lets
you control access and
There are lots of ways to feed your bees. Jars are
the cheapest and at a small scale the easiest.
You can also use ziploc style plastic bags.
A few other necessities
Entrance reducer gives a new
or weak colony a smaller
opening to defend
Mouse guards are used in the
winter to keep out mammals.
You can use 1/2” hardware cloth
Queen excluders are used to
keep the queen from getting
into the supers and laying eggs.
Deep & Supers
Common Variations on the
8 frame - The boxes hold only 8 frames instead of 10.
Smaller boxes are lighter and easier to handle
Plastic - Molded from polystyrene: no nailing required,
well insulated, light
Top Bar - Bees build comb from bars without frames.
Plan for success
Don’t just buy the minimum to save money. You want
everything to be ready to go when you need it.
Decide on how you will feed and extract your honey
Start saving your spaghetti jars
Keep in touch with the Guild for extraction events
Tools of the trade
Beekeepers love gizmos
You don’t need that much - veil, smoker, hive tool,
These are best purchased through one of the big online
houses. They’re light and shipping won’t kill you.
Please ask one of the experienced beekeepers after the
program if you have questions
The club is organizing an order from Forest Hill
Woodworking in Lancaster County
Deadline for this order is 2/25
2 standard conﬁgurations:
All medium (6 boxes) - $190.00
2 Deep, 3 medium - $180.00
includes boxes, frames, wax foundation, screened bottom board, inner &
outer covers, entrance reducer & mouse guard; delivery & assembly
workshop - you will have to assemble and paint your equipment but we’ll
show you how.
We will bring all the equipment to Green on Greene -
6819 Greene St. on Saturday March 13.
You will be able to pick it up there. No other
arrangements can be made at this time.
We will have a few beekeepers there to show you how
to put your equipment together (it’s easy)
Other Places to Buy
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm - http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/
Brushy Mountain oﬀers free shipping on your ﬁrst order to Guild
members - this is a great deal!
Dadant - https://www.dadant.com
Kelley Bees - http://www.kelleybees.com/
Drapers Super Bee Apiaries - http://www.draperbee.com/index.htm